We all face mountains. The question is, how do we face them? One man starts up the mountain without worrying about its height or terrain, trusting God to lead him every step of the way. Eventually, he pauses to glance around and sees he’s made it halfway up without even realizing it.
Another man stands on the dark side of the mountain, with no light to reveal its features or face. It is fearsome and he shivers at its base in terror, not daring to put one foot in front of the other. Yet if he waits for the sun the truth of the mountain will be revealed and his path become clear.
It is not the mountain itself that matters, but how we face it. If we trust in God with all our hearts and refuse to rely on our own, faulty logic, if we turn to Him for direction at every step, He will show us the right path to take.
A friend asked me to tell her, in one sentence, what God has been saying to me recently. The question caught me off guard because He’s been saying so much on so many different topics that, for a moment, I had to think. How to put it in one sentence?
Then I saw it. Other than the times He’s come to encourage me and help me through something, or to answer one of my myriad random questions, everything He’s said has ultimately been about me getting ready – ready to be used.
I’m not talking about being used as a speaker or writer, both of which I’ve done before and loved. I’m talking about being used every single day of my life.
I’m to stick close to Him, constantly listening for the Spirit’s whispered, “There. He needs help,” or, “Stop. She’s crying out for someone to listen.”
I’m to be prepared and able. For those two nudges, anyone could respond, but He’s calling me to more. I’m to truly grasp who and what He is in me and who and what I am in Him, to understand the authority I have as a believer when it comes to dealing with demonic activity.
I am to have His Word firmly planted in my heart, ready to be brought out and used as the Sword of the Spirit that it is. There are two important things about a sword. You cannot use it if you don’t have it (I’m talking memorization, not just carrying a Bible) and you can’t use it if you don’t know how to use it.
I’m to stay on the offensive. This is something that’s been churning in me for a while, that as a Christian I’ve been living my spiritual warfare life on the defensive. No military leader wants to fight battles defensively. He knows the best chance of winning any battle is to stay on the offensive.
I am to live thankfully trusting, because this is where peace lies, and peace – His peace – is one of the most vital elements of all.
I am to love with compassion. I am to love like never before, being intentional about expressing the love of God to the people He puts in my path – whoever they are.
So, almost everything He’s been saying recently falls into one of these categories. Really, there’s nothing new here. But that’s the point, isn’t it? We never know what’s coming, but He does, and He wants us ready to face it head on.
So, you can probably expect me to have quite a few Consistency-related posts this year. At least, if I can become a more consistent blogger you will. Not surprisingly, since God is my highest priority, I intend to put more of an emphasis on His Word this year than I ever have before. One of the tools I’m using is the Through the Word Bible app. I learned about it while doing their study of Luke in the YouVersion Bible App (review to follow) before Christmas, and I’m hooked.
The concept is simple. They’ve put together teachings on every single chapter in the Bible. You can walk through the Bible one book at a time, which would be awesome, or you can browse their topical options. I’m currently going through their End Times collection, which uses chapters from Daniel, Thessalonians, Jude, and Revelation, and I can’t limit myself to one session a day. The things I’m learning are fascinating and valuable!
Anyway, it’s really that easy. Download the “Through the Word” app, register, and then take time to do their introductory session. While you might want to dive right in, it is best to start here. However, if you’re too ready to run forward, just go to Browse, select the series that interests you, and tell it to start playing.
I did an in-depth study many years ago and reached a very important conclusion.
WHAT I do is important. Getting into God’s Word, learning what He wants me to do, and making sure I do the right thing… Important. But even more important than WHAT I do is WHY I do it.
In other words, motivation is everything. God doesn’t just want our actions to be right, our appearance and performance to be acceptable; He wants our hearts to be right. I can go to church, hug my neighbors, raise my hands in worship, give liberally in the offering… but if my heart isn’t in it, if I’m only going through the motions so I’ll look good to others or satisfy some legalistic need inside of me, I’M WRONG.
And if I’m wrong, the only thing I need to be doing is getting right. It’s time for me to go to Him and ask for His forgiveness and help, to pray with the psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” [Psalm 51:10 (KJV)]
I once read that Smith Wigglesworth, who had a phenomenal ministry, never read any books other than the Bible.
On the one hand, this is hard to conceive. The amount of material that was available to the avid reader, even in his day, is staggering. Could one really turn aside from all of it? On the other hand, the Word is so rich, so full, that I often feel like the time I spend in it is too short, that my morning alarm going off is a rude interruption.
And I have seen evidence, in me, of what Wigglesworth talked about. He contended that faith is based on knowledge of Who God is, and that we gain this knowledge as we are in His Word. In fact, he said, “if you see imperfect faith – full of doubt, a wavering condition – it always comes of imperfect knowledge.”
That makes so much sense! My faith is stronger today than it has ever been. Yes, it grows as it is tried and strengthened, much like a muscle grows under the same conditions, but it grows as it does because it is rooted in my ever-increasing knowledge of Who God is.
Staying in the Word really is a necessity for the one who wants ever-increasing faith.
…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
A lawyer type once said that Hebrews 10:16-31 is written like a contract, with verses 16-21 sharing God’s part, 22-25 sharing our part and 26-31 sharing the consequences of our breaking the contract. God, of course, does not break contracts.
Bearing this in mind, verses 22 through 25 become vitally important to the believer. Verse 22 first calls for us to draw near to God. In my experience, this is one of the most consistently disobeyed commands God gives. It is one thing to think, “I love God,” or “I live for God,” and another thing entirely to climb up into his lap like a child does with his father. Why? Time is an obvious excuse. We fill our lives so completely that we effectively push God right out of them, repeatedly promising to get with Him later. In too many cases, later never comes.
Another obvious reason for our failure is that when we draw close to God our faults become entirely too obvious for our own selves’ comfort. Indeed, Scripture commands us not only to draw near to Him, but to come with true hearts, a thing that requires self-judgment and humility. Too, we are to come in “full assurance of faith.” Few children have the nerve to approach their fathers, to draw truly near to them, when they’ve done wrong. Their hearts are not pure and they know it; they cannot come in “full assurance of faith” because they know they’ve earned punishment rather than their father’s loving touch. So it is with us; flesh shrinks back, drawing away from God rather than straining towards Him, so we must deal with the flesh first. We must put it down so we can exalt Him.
But oh the rewards that come when we judge ourselves, repent of our sins, and are able once again to draw near to Him, when we do take the time and put forth the effort to draw near to Him. As a little girl, climbing up into my earthly father’s lap might have been a wonderful thing, but climbing up into my heavenly Father’s lap is so far beyond this earthly experience that it denies the comparison.
…the message they heard was of no value to them,
because those who heard it did not combine it with faith.
“They,” in this case, are those who Moses led out of Egypt. In the previous chapter, the author shares what God said about that generation and how their refusal to trust in and obey Him resulted in them not being able to enter into the rest that God had promised to give them in Canaan. They heard the same message that the next generation heard, but they only heard it; they failed to mix the message with faith, with action.
Some think that faith is merely believing, that if they hear a message and believe that message, then they have mixed the message with faith, but the Bible speaks otherwise. A message mixed with faith results in action. In the case of the Israelites who had fled from Egypt, the action would have been the taking up of arms and conquering of Canaan. They only heard the message, however. They did not really believe. Their faith, such as it was, was dead, useless.
James reminds us…
2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
2:17 …faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead
2:20 …faith without deeds is useless…
2:26 …faith without deeds is dead.
I had to fight the temptation to copy all of James 2:14-26 here. It reveals so very clearly that faith and action absolutely must work hand-in-hand.
I do not want to miss out on that rest my God has promised me. I want all that He has set aside for me. I refuse to miss out!
Having made that decision, what is required of me now? Action! As I hear the message, if I do not want it to be of no value to me – do not want to be counted as no more worthy than that group of faithless Israelites – then I absolutely must combine the message with faith, faith that steps out and does whatever the message calls me to do.
It was that combining of message and faith that resulted in my salvation in the first place. Who knows how many times I’d heard the message previously? All those earlier hearings had been of limited value, however, because I did not act on them, did not combine them with faith. Yet on that one, specific day, while I probably heard the very same message spoken in much the same way, I reacted differently. I combined the message with faith and took a step toward the altar, I accepted all that Jesus did for me when He offered His life up as the sacrificial substitute for mine, and I was forever changed. Far from being of no value to me, that morning’s message was priceless.
Remembering this – the moment and the results of what happened in that moment – how can I fail to ensure that the message always is of value to me? Yet I do fail. There have been far too many times in my life when I’ve heard a message and done nothing with it, not even mixed it with a tiny bit of faith, a little bit of action. What have I missed as a result? What seeds did God try to plant that I let die before they bore fruit, killed by my own negligence, my own lack of faith-based action?
I can’t change the past. I can only repent and commit to a changed future…and I do.